With 104 Accidents In 2016, Indian Railways Has Bigger Concerns Than Bullet Trains

In this modern era of bullet trains, let there be some better conditions for the existing Indian railways. There has been a lot said about bullet trains – that it will be a great achievement for our nation. But the thing is, everybody is talking about the future, and nobody wants to talk about the present scenario of the Indian railways.

The situation is disastrous at present. The system is very lethargic, the condition of the railway tracks is dangerous, train-related accidents are at a high, millions of peoples’ lives are at stake because anything can happen at any moment given the present condition of our railways.

Our government is bringing bullet trains to the nation, but we are actually not prepared for it. We still have problems to be resolved. People are not provided with the best facilities in the railways: they are not safe. The decision is to be welcomed by all, but this is not the right time to welcome it, when we are surrounded by problems in the same field.

People travelling daily don’t feel safe due to the increase in the number of train accidents. 104 train accidents had been recorded in the year 2016-17 with 193 deaths. The people of this country want better conditions in the railways, where they can travel without any fear of derailment or of any other calamity.

D Raghunandan, in his article published in The Hindu, said: “This (bullet train) is a wasteful project which only serves to deliver an illusory feel-good perception among the wealthy.” The main problem of the project is viability. Even developed countries are facing problems in the installation of HSR (high-speed rails). According to D Raghunandan, “Japan’s pioneering Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo to Osaka, passes through the biggest industrial and commercial centres, caters to almost 50% of Japan’s population, and carries more than 150 million passengers annually. South Korea’s Seoul-Busan HSR caters to almost 70% of the population, yet struggles with viability. France’s fabled Paris-Lyon HSR service has had to periodically receive substantial subsidies. Taiwan’s $14 billion HSR service between Taipei and Tainan virtually became bankrupt after losses of over $1 billion. It realised only 50% of the projected ridership and required government bailout. Argentina gave up on HSR ambitions on cost grounds, deciding instead to upgrade its entire railway system to medium-speed infrastructure, an option India should seriously consider. Even the U.S. is tentatively initiating a San Francisco-Los Angeles corridor, and is still unsure about the densely populated industrial-commercial Philadelphia-Boston-New York-Washington DC corridor.

So in place of bringing bullet trains, the government should focus on the major problems of the railways. The basic amenities should be provided to all the passengers, like clean coaches and toilets, trains reaching stations without any delay, less trafficking, no derailments etc. If these obstacles are resolved by our union government, then only we should welcome bullet trains in our country.

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